Attack of Miitomo

struggling_miitomo

Strangest Social Network

struggling_miitomoYesterday is the day that Nintendo finally rolled out it’s My.Nintendo.Com rebranding of their account system.  For years Nintendo has made some pretty confusing choices when it came to social connectivity in their applications.  The obtuse friend code system in the 3DS was often times more trouble than it was really worth to connect up with your friends under most situations.  The short lived Nintendo ID seemed to work better, but since I only recently purchased a Wii U I have not had a ton of experience with it other than accessing the eShop.  “My Nintendo” is their new attempt at gluing together all of these old systems along with the social media that we actually use on a regular basis… namely Twitter, Google Plus, and Facebook… with what appears to be integration with Instagram and Line but these are not super intuitive.  With this network they also rolled out a new app called Miitomo that attempts to be something along the lines of those street pass apps that let you play with your friends Mii avatars.

The only problem is…  that the app refuses to work on my phone.  They have chosen to block rooted phones from being able to use the network… which honestly accounts for a not insignificant portion of the android market share.  The only problem here is…  my phone isn’t rooted.  At one point I absolutely unlocked root so I could run tethering apps, however since then I restored back to the factory settings.  When you use any of the “root checker” programs my phone gets as clean bill of health, and Samsung KNOX is still showing a valid warranty so zero strikes there either.  So for all purposes my phone is not rooted and the app should not be able to tell that it has EVER been rooted.  However I am still encountering the same damned black screen and crash that rooted users seem to experience, so I am guessing somehow the Nintendo app still thinks I have a rooted device.  The only problem here is… if my phone were actually rooted I could fix this problem easily by using cloaking software to keep the Miitomo app from seeing the root access.  So honestly if I ever want to run this on my phone it is looking like I am going to have to redo the root and install Rootcloak… which sort of defeats the purpose doesn’t it Nintendo?

dancing_miitomoAll of this said I did manage to get it to install on my Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, which in itself is a bit of a goofy situation given that this is not on the Amazon app store yet.  If you also have the $50 Kindle, and would like to be using the Google Play store instead…  check out this video that I used to install the play store and the related applications on my tablet because it doesn’t require root to actually make it happen.  The only game I have yet to get to work on the Kindle is Final Fantasy Record Keeper and I am guessing if I did some digging I could probably make that work too.  On the Miitomo front…  I am not entirely certain I get it.  I mean it is a very cute presentation and it allows me to dress my Mii up however I want.  The only problem is I am not really seeing the point, other than earning nebulous rewards on the “My Nintendo” website like 15% off coupons.  Once you get past the window dressing, what the app ultimately ends up being is a super cumbersome chat program that lets you comment on your friends status updates.  If I could take items earned in this app and have it trickle down into the 3DS and Wii U then that would be really awesome, or if I could unlock extras for the games I am already playing…  then that would be really cool.  For the time being however it falls into the “nifty” bin but I am not sure how much myself or anyone else will really be using this once the new and cool factor wears off.

[Edit] – as of this morning I noticed there was a 1.1.2 update waiting on my phone.  I tried that and sure enough it seems to have fixed the crash.  I do have to admit this is a much better app for a phone than a tablet, so maybe I was overly harsh in my initial review.  I am not sure if this actually fixes things for rooted users, but it fixed my problems.

 

Super Good Advice

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I’ve been playing a silly amount of Iron Banner over the last few days, because I am finding that I really do enjoy PVP in Destiny.  This is just such an odd revelation for me given that I have purposefully shied away from fighting other players in any other game.  At least on some level it makes me wonder if I should dust off some of the other titles and give PVP a real chance to see if it sticks with me.  I remember enjoying playing Arena in World of Warcraft during Burning Crusade, but in large part we were doing our matches to get epics… to help our characters in raiding.  That is the most interesting thing for me is that I thought I was going into Iron Banner just for the loot, and while I have managed to get two of the chestpieces… that really doesn’t seem to be my core drive.  I actually like playing the maps, and while there are some that I absolutely hate… several of them are beginning to feel extremely comfortable.  The other thing that I find shocking is that I actually seem to be improving quite a bit.  There have been a few matches where I topped the score for the entire match, which is something I find completely bizarro.  I still consider myself a very shitty Destiny player.

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I think my ultimate goal for this weekend is to be able to get up high enough in the ranking to start to see the weapon drops.  I believe these start at rank 4 with the hand cannon, and rank 5 for the machine gun.  Both of them are weapons that I would probably actually use, but I am more excited about the Hand Cannon right now for some reason.  I miss using my Hand Cannon, and it feels like maybe this one would be a good legendary to run around with.  I need to honestly just dust off my Hawkmoon and give it a go again… but the big problem that I always run into is the fact that I never seem to have enough ammunition.  It is my huge hope that in the weapon re-balancing coming in the April patch that we see some love for the reserve ammunition size of the various Hand Cannon archetypes.  For now my weapon of choice in the Crucible is the Antipodal Hindsight that I now have up to 303.  There is just something about this weapon that I love, especially now that I have a roll on it with Rodeo.  Seriously… Rodeo on any weapon will take it from crappy to completely viable for me at least.  It is my hope that through today’s daily bounties I will hit rank 3 and get my first Iron Banner package.

 

License Portability

Golden Age of Ports

MortalKombatVersions

This morning is going to be yet another stunning example of “Bel Wants a Thing that Will Never Happen”, but I am going to roll with it anyways.  One of my big frustrations over the last several years is when I end up repurchasing the same game for a different platform.  For example I owned Fallout 3 long before Steam existed, but because I wanted the convenience of being able to play that game without having to rummage for discs every single time…  I ended up picking the game of the year edition on a steam sale.  But more often than this there are games that I have on the PC that I wish I could play on a console, or on a console and wish I could play on a PC.  Last night there was a discussion about the new Shovel Knight patch, and one of my immediate thoughts was…  man I kinda wish I had that on my 3DS since I have taken recently to bringing that to work to play.  Sure it isn’t terribly annoying to repurchase a $20 game, but it certainly feels it when you are talking about a $60 game.  Now we get to my wish…  portable licensing.  What I mean by that is the ability to swap licensing between various game systems that a game is available.  Don’t want to play Borderlands 2 on your PC anymore?  Fine trade that license in for the PS4 copy, and when you tire of that the Vita copy.

The problem is you are immediately going to tell me…  “but Bel this is how game companies make money, by releasing their game on every possible platform in the hopes that you will play pokegame with them and buy them all!”  Sure that is how things seem to work currently, but is that really a good model?  For years there was a significant amount of work porting games between consoles.  The Sega Genesis was a vastly different system than the Super Nintendo… and we constantly saw massive differences between the games that ended up on both platforms.  I took the liberty of snagging two screenshots of two different versions of Mortal Kombat II, from the golden age of porting games to multiple platforms.  You can see a bunch of graphical differences between the two based on the limitations of each architecture.  What has changed is the fact that console manufacturers do not have the same sort of pull that they used to.  PC Gaming became a major contender as has handheld platforms, and while console manufacturers still desperately cling to the notion of “exclusivity” this is a dying concept.  Systems are designed from the ground up to be essentially easy to port code to, because they know that the keys to their success is a huge library of popular games.

License Portability

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There are certain games out there that you know will ultimately end up on every single platform.  Take the example of the new Tomb Raider game that Microsoft claims to have exclusivity over.  They have not so subtly chosen their words every single time they have talked about and used the specific phrasing of “exclusive for holiday 2015”.  That means a few months after Christmas 2015 you will end up with a new launch for the PS4 and PC and whatever other platforms seem to matter at the time.  Essentially what I am proposing is to cut through this bullshit and simply sell licenses that you can move back and forth between the platforms.  I can see this going down one of several different ways, but not all of them are terribly easy to implement.  The best scenario is simply that if you purchase the game directly from a developer, you can create an account that allows you to log in and get a new license for whatever platform you happen to play the game on.  That means you are paying a non-discounted rate for the game, directly to the game developer cutting out the middle man…  and for that you gain the privilege of playing that game on whatever platform you happen to desire doing so.  There are a lot of logistics with this one, but I could see it working for someone like Ubisoft that already has their own gaming infrastructure in the form of UPlay.  That would actually turn that system from being a liability into being a positive for users, because as of right now… there is no reason for UPlay to exist other than to annoy us.

Another option would be some sort of a license swap scenario, where you trade in one license key for a new license key for the system of your choosing.  This honestly would work similar to PC software that allows you to install on a fixed number of machines.  In these cases there is almost always an online tool that allows you to unbind a license from a specific machine and install it fresh on another to allow for things like system rebuilds.  The problem being that right now there is no real way to make sure these licenses are leaving circulation, as in once a game is granted through a system like PSN, it becomes harder to revoke the game since you are having to deal with a third party company doing it for you.  The final option I would suggest is probably the easiest.  When you own the game on any platform you could purchase heavily discounted copies of the game for other platforms.  My theory is that you would ultimately end up paying something along the lines of 15-20% of the cost of the original game to get a new copy of the game for another platform. The problem here is that a system like this would be rife with potential abuse.  What is to say that I don’t buy the game on the PS4, and then get a discount key for my friend to play on their Xbox One.  The worse case scenario is after market sales of said discount keys.  None of these solutions are perfect, but I feel like if someone actually solved this solution… it would be a huge marketing point for any games they produce.  I have several PCs, a PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita, Android device, and iOS device if you limit the search to only the more recent systems.  It would be amazing to play the gamesI want to play on whatever systems they are available…  without going bankrupt doing so.

 

Bel VS Mobile Gaming

The Eureka Moment

FalloutShelter_ScreenShot

I just had a moment of realization while checking on the progress of Vault 816…  I am not a mobile gamer.  While I really enjoy the idea of playing Fallout Shelter, I always have the same thought I have with any mobile game.  “Man I wish I could play this on my desktop or through a web browser.”  There are games that I enjoy the idea of playing… like Fallout Shelter, Alphabear, Dragon Coins, or Final Fantasy Record Keeper.  The problem is I get frustrated by the imprecise controls.  Using your finger to move objects around the screen feels so much more cludgy than doing it with a nice tight mouse pointer. Granted if I were a smaller person I would probably not be having any of these issues.

Sausage-Like Fingers

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I am 6’4” and have huge hands…  I can palm a basketball. Attached to these huge hands are useless sausage-like fingers that have the fine motor skills of sleepy toddler.  The more I think about it… this fact has gotten in the way of my enjoyment of almost every mobile game I have played.  At first I thought the bulk of my problems would be resolved were I simply playing on a larger device.  However as I graduated from my iPhone 3s to a Samsung Galaxy S2 to a Samsung Galaxy S5…  each time the screen size increased sizably but the difficulty never went away.  When I finally got my own iPad I still felt like throwing it across the room anytime I was asked to do anything that required a modicum of detailed movement.

I realize there is such a thing as a stylus, but then I am having to fiddle with an awkward device on top of an already awkward control scheme.  The problem is…  there really are games that I want to enjoy on mobile devices.  Fallout Shelter for example takes two things that I have loved in the past…  the Fallout Franchise, and Sim Tower like gameplay.  During my pre-college and college years I spent silly amounts of my free time playing both of these games.  I spent enough time playing Sim Tower to be able to build freaking airports at the top of my towers.  I have played each of the Fallout franchise games multiple times, and even though I rarely play the original…  I feel like I could pretty safely pick it right back up and meld into the nostalgia nicely.  So I am the core demographic of this game…  except for the whole control scheme problem.

I honestly have no clue why I felt like I needed to write this post, other than having my own little Eureka moment.  For the longest time I thought my dislike of mobile gaming was more about the game experiences that you have on a mobile device.  Now I realize that is wrong… there are plenty of “gamerly” experiences available.  My problem is that I struggle to get any sense of control while playing a mobile game.  Finger based movement against a slick screen always feels chaotic to me.  It reminds me of how frustrated I get when trying to use a trackball.  I guess I am just accustomed to the mouse, keyboard and controller…  and when it finally comes down to relying on my own digits to make things work…  I find the experience frustrating.  I am wondering if anyone else out there with sausage-like fingers suffers from this same issue?  We should totally form a support group or something.

Week In Gaming 8/30/2015

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Stressed but Still Here

This week turned out to be a shockingly stressful one, but thankfully all of said stress happened at work… and I could more or less leave it there as well.  There has been a twinge of sadness as well because months ago I had hoped to be able to attend Pax Prime and get to hang out with friends there.  However that didn’t quite work out, and since I lacked tickets to go there…  because AggroChat was not apparently qualified as a media outlet, I stopped pushing quite so hard.  The beginning of the school year is especially rough on my wife, and it would have been even more stressful to be travelling during this time.  As such I am doubting that Pax Prime will ever really be in my cards unless for some reason they decide to move it either earlier or later in the year.  I will always have Pax South however, and I fully intend to go this coming year.  I am going to be trying to talk as many people into attending as I can, and hopefully can organize a meetup or something while there.  There were plenty of people at Pax South last year but I was completely overwhelmed by it being my first real convention, and the internet was pretty horrible…  so I missed most of them.  Anyways…  on with what is I hope becoming a Sunday tradition, where I review the games I played over the past week.

Final Fantasy XIV

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Currently “The Rising” event is going on in Final Fantasy XIV that marks the yearly anniversary festival.  This year the quest that goes along with it is one of the most touching quests I have experienced in a game before.  I don’t want to spoil too many details about it, but suffice to say there is a little bit of fourth wall breaching going on.  Diehard Final Fantasy XIV fans have this hero worship for Naoki Yoshida and the rest of the team, and it is absolutely well earned.  It feels like there is very much a symbiotic relationship going on there, and they understand fully just how important the loyal fans are to the continued success of the title.  The game is in this interesting place where it is extremely humbled by the fact that it launched in 2010 and failed to capture hearts and minds.  They are putting everything into the game and leaving nothing on the table, and it shows.  Other than the anniversary event we worked on Ravana Extreme attempts, and I have every hope that we will be able to down him this coming Monday.  Past that I have honestly been taking a bit of a break from Final Fantasy XIV, or at least not really logging in every day.

Diablo 3

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If you are wondering where the bulk of my game time was spent, you can look no further than Diablo 3.  I am not sure if it was my time playing Hellgate London, or the fact that I finally pulled my head out of the sand and realized there was such a thing as a “season”.  Whatever the combination I have been pumped to be playing Diablo 3 again and have been spending a lot of time with my friend Grace was we worked on pushing up our seasonal characters.  At the beginning of the week I managed to get my Crusader from last season to 70 with the help of Grace and her crazy torment farming ways.  Then Friday when the new season opened I started work immediately on a female Barbarian.  As of last night I am now level 60 and making the final push to 70.  That is really what I intend to spend most of my time today working on, and hopefully by tonight I will be sitting at 70 and starting to work on gearing up for doing torment and beyond.  I am having a blast, and I am not sure whatever mental block cleared that has allowed me to get involved once more with the click to attack madness.

Wildstar

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I can’t say that I have made stellar progress since last week, but I am continuing with my new tradition of trying to play Wildstar Tuesday nights.  At this point I am level 25 still in Whitevale but I think maybe I can see the end of the zone.  My hope is to move on past it this week and hopefully into something less desolate.  I feel about Whitevale the way I feel about most desert zones in MMOs.  I have come to realization this week that it is never the biome necessarily that I like or dislike, but instead the zone design.  I was warned that Malgrave is coming up, and a desert… but from what I have seen of the imagery inside it seems like something I will enjoy.  I want to devote more time to this game, but for now I am going to settle with making it a Tuesday night thing.

Hearthstone

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The game that I played that shocked me the most this week was Hearthstone.  I have not really spent much time playing it since release, and with the addition of a new expansion of cards I decided to poke my head in.  This is where I found a brand new game mode called Tavern Brawl.  Apparently you have a different weekly challenge, and this week was essentially playing with a randomized deck.  I played hunter and had a good amount of success.  Playing with a random assortment of cards, including many of the brand new Grand Tournament cards gave me a nostalgic feeling much like the early days of Magic the Gathering.  I used to love the days when I was limited based on the  cards I physically owned and as a result made some odd decks to try and weave in my favorite elements.  In truth I would probably play Hearthstone more often if this random brawl option thing was a fixed item.  I know this coming week there will be a completely different Tavern Brawl, but I will likely poke my head in to see what it is and give it a shot.  This might breathe new life into the game for me, and for that I am kinda pumped.

Fallout Shelter

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My week in review would not be complete without at least talking a bit about Fallout Shelter.  Now I have been technically playing this game for awhile now but since I do not regularly use my iPad, the sessions were limited and I went weeks between opening the app.  With the release of Fallout Shelter for android I have been playing it far more often on my phone, and it has now become my default “moment of downtime” game as I check in on my little post apocalyptic ant farm.  All things said I learned a lot of lessons playing it on the iPad that I have now applied to this new vault.  Where Vault 999 was a relative failure, Vault 861 is pretty damned idyllic.  Through a bit of luck of drops, and some careful planning I have managed to create a pretty safe environment that can absolutely shred raider attacks.  I had a random person show up at the vault that was fairly warriorly, and once I equipped her with power armor and a plasma pistol she has been roaming the wastes dispensing justice.  At the same time she has become a major source of income and the gear she brings back I am slowly outfitting all of my settlers in.  I have jokingly started calling the restaurant on the first floor Cafe Death, because the raiders always go there…. only to get shredded by all of my shotgun toting vault dwellers.  The only thing that I feel bad about is that I essentially  have one couple that is slowly populating my vault.  I have left them in the room for weeks now and they have half a dozen offspring roaming around as a result.

Hatoful Boyfriend

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The last game that I played a significant amount of this week was of course Hatoful Boyfriend, and last night we recorded the AggroChat game club show for it.  This was Grace’s pick and I think a lot of us went into this assuming that we would end up hating the game.  We were mostly wrong as the vast majority of us had lots of good things to say about the game. To make it even crazier this is the first game that the majority of us have actually played through more than one… but given that an individual play session tends to only be around the hour long mark that makes sense.   If you want to hear our length discussion about dating “Birbs” after the apocalypse you should totally listen into the show.

[AggroChat] [Direct Download] [iTunes] [Stitcher]

The Search for Internet

Gopher Belghast

Yesterday was the first official day of the conference and it went far more smoothly than we could have hoped for.  Everyone seems so full of excitement and just brimming with ideas that when put together with the other teachers seem to cause random outbursts of inspiration.  When you see the number 180 written out it doesn’t seem like that many people, but when you are confronted with that many at one time…  it seems like a rather large group indeed.  The conference has folks from around the country and many from outside of it.  There is a pretty huge contingency from our neighbor to the north, and a few from across the pond as well.  I’ve heard there is an Irish teacher here, but I have not met her.  While watching the twitter hashtag during the day everyone seems to be getting so much from the process.

My morning was extremely busy, as I played gopher for any teacher that had forgotten something.  I did a lot of runs to the store to pick up this or that and deliver it to their class room.  From a tech support standpoint everything seemed to go smoothly, as the morning sessions tended to be put on by folks who are already seasoned presenters.  After lunch they had the keynote session and twitter blew up after that, so I am guessing the guy was extremely dynamic.  In the afternoon I finally sprang into action with a few last minute games of “trace the cable” to figure out what exactly had gotten unplugged in the shuffle.  A number of the issues were ones we simply could not resolve due to the fact that my wife’s school employs a rather draconic web filtering system.

The Search for Internet

I admit much like a student I spent a good chunk of my time yesterday in search for a way to circumvent the web filtering system.  It seemed like every other site I attempted to hit was either blocked for partially malfunctioning because some content delivery network they use as actually the thing being blocked.  You find out just how many things you read are hosted off things like Imgur when you encounter a web filtering system like this.  A few weeks back we lost our router, and I am still in the RMA process with Asus to get a replacement, but one of the nice features of the Nighthawk is that it comes with a really cool OpenVPN client.  So a good chunk of my morning was spent trying to configure this.

For starters I could not remote into my machine at the house, as apparently RDP was blocked by the draconic filters.  So I did one of the most truly contorted things to gain access to it.  Apparently my workplaces web based SSL vpn worked just fine, so I remoted into work… and then turned around and remoted into my machine at the house.  I was pretty sure I was moments away from ripping a hole in the internet.  There I configured the client the router, and when it came to downloading the OpenVPN client… I had to do that on my home machine and gmail it to myself, since the OpenVPN website was blocked as well.  Finally when I got everything installed I fired it up… and for a moment I thought it might be going to work… but the packets kept timing out.

So not only did they have a web filter in place but they also had a packet inspection firewall in place that was knocking down the packets coming in that it recognized as OpenVPN.  In utter futility I flailed around a bit trying a different combination of port, maybe hoping I could disguise the traffic as something common.  The problem is since I am on Cox internet, all of the common and benign ports are being blocked on my end since they don’t want you hosting a web, ftp, or mail server at your house.  So after trying a dozen or so ports and going through the contorted process of transferring the configuration over gmail just to make sure it was working…  I gave up and resigned myself to playing some Bejeweled 3.  This is how you can tell I am really bored…  I play Bejeweled because at this point I can play it on auto pilot.

Towel Day

After giving up for a bit and playing a few rounds of bejeweled I had another idea.  For some time I have known exactly how to root my Samsung Galaxy S5, but didn’t do it for one reason or another.  Like I felt like that was just a mess I didn’t want to deal with, and any of the potential ramifications of doing it.  I want to be able to fiddle with my device freely, but at the same time I have no interest in doing a lot of the reasons why you root an android in the first place.  Essentially I wanted to hold off doing it until I had a solid reason to.  The complete and total lack of decent internet at the school was apparently that reason.  The Samsung S5 has a built in Wifi hotspot but in their infinite wisdom AT&T seems to have installed a piece of software the blocks it anytime it tries to start.  You have to be on one of the metered plans to use it, and since we are on the old grandfathered unlimited plan…  this means we cannot.

The thing is I see the reasoning for blocking it.  They don’t want someone using their phone as their ONLY internet provider and doing all sorts of random stuff like bittorrent over their wireless network.  For me however I want to be able to use is as a backup network when I cannot for some reason connect to one.  I feel like if I am paying for this device, I should be able to use its internet connection in any way I see fit within reason.  The rest of the world can do this without problem, and carriers outside of the United States don’t throw up these artificial restrictions.  So emboldened by my frustrations… I installed the Towel root on my phone, and turned to the dark side.

It still took me a little bit of doing, but right now I have my phone connected to my laptop via bluetooth and PDAnet and the connection is amazing.  I figured all of this out pretty late in the day but I was able to get out and play some FFXIV with little to no lag.  I just have to figure out how to also connect it to my chromebook, and then I will have a way to use it when I do not have access to WiFi.  Even cooler this also means I should able to finally use a Dualshock 3 controller with my android to play some emulator games!  Everything that I have heard tells me that the android is a truly amazing emulator system, but in order to get it working well you need root access.  Now that I have finally crossed that threshold I figure this is dawning a new age of random crap I use my phone for.